I paid for tickets on the wrong airline

Question: I planned an once-in-a-lifetime trip for my two children and me to South Africa a few months ago. I used a travel agency to book my airline tickets.

My travel agent told me the flight was made with American Airlines. As the date got closer, I called American and was told the booking was there but hadn’t been paid. I was very upset and immediately confirmed and paid for the reservation.

At the time I was dealing with a family illness, which made the situation more difficult.

When I called my travel agent, I found out they had changed the flight arrangements to British Airways. I called American Airlines less than 24 hours later to cancel the reservation I had made. The person on the phone did cancel my reservation and I was told my children’s reservation, which was separate from mine, was canceled as well. I was charged $2,187 for each of my children’s tickets. The tickets were never used.

I’d like American to either refund the tickets or transfer them to me or to my husband. It is unreasonable that the tickets are not being refunded or at least transferable to me and my husband. American will only allow my children to use the flight credits after adding a $250 change fee. Can you help? — Laurie Spear, Boca Raton, Fla.

Answer: Whoa, talk about getting your wires crossed! It sounds as if there was a completely preventable breakdown in communication between you and your travel agent.

Your agent should have told you which airline you were flying to South Africa on. But you should have contacted the agency before confirming the flight with your airline. The reason you deal with a trusted intermediary to book your airline tickets is that they provide an extra service. An agent can confirm your flights, make a change to your reservation, answer any questions about your itinerary and fix a flight if there’s a problem.

Your agent would have been on the hook to buy you a new ticket if somehow American Airlines wasn’t paid for the ticket on time.

Stepping in and “fixing” it without first consulting with your agent made the problem worse. Given the difficult situation you were in at the time, I can’t blame you for just paying for the ticket.

But the real problem was American Airlines. You asked it to cancel all of your tickets, but it only processed one itinerary. There are ways of verifying a cancellation. Companies will often offer a cancellation number or some other verification that the tickets have been refunded, such as an email. When you didn’t get a confirmation from American, you should have called back.

Actually, you should have asked your agent to handle the cancellation. That’s what you’re paying them for, after all.

Most airlines will refund a ticket if you call within 24 hours to cancel, but after that, they’ll offer a credit minus a change fee, which can only be used by the ticketed passenger.

Given your personal circumstances and the problems with your travel agency, I thought American should take another look at your case. It did and it decided to make an exception to its policy. It issued new flight vouchers that could be used by anyone and are valid for a year from the date of their issue. You’ll still have to pay the cancellation fee, but you’ll no longer have to use the tickets for your children.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    This one was the easiest poll to answer in a long time. I’d change the wording to “who was the ONLY person to blame”. LOL. I’m glad that AA did the right thing and loosened restrictions on her, though, seeing as she is graphically-impaired. Every transaction was “they told me”, “I called them”, etc. Has she never heard of getting anything in writing? I’m highly doubtful her TA would’ve simply changed airlines on her without giving her any notice, though. Does anyone else find that strange?


  • http://www.bangaloreaviation.com/ Devesh Agarwal

    As in life, but more so in travel, do not open multiple channels of communication. If for any reason you do, then ensure you have them synced.

  • Philippa_FRA

    Let me guess; the “family illness situation” was “loss of common sense” and Ms Spear had caught it too?

    Seriously, she happily hands over more than $6000 – which she has already paid once!? – without hesitation. If the “family illness situation” did not prevent her from calling the airline to check up on her trip, why did it prevent her from calling her travel agent? Lame excuse. It’s nothing but dumb luck she gets away with only paying the cancellation fees.

  • $16635417

    I’m curious if the itineraries were different. It’s possible the AA and BA bookings were the same flights due to the fact AA code shares with BA into South Africa. We don’t know what was said between the TA and the OP, was an itinerary and e-ticket receipt from the travel agent provided and passed onto Chris?

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’m not sure how “family illness” fits into this story unless it’s a case of the stupids. If she could call the airline during her “family illness” which brought her stress, she could’ve called the agent.

    That said…what the heck? Why didn’t she trust the agent? Who was the agent? Was it some online big box that she’s calling an “agent” or what?!?!

    As far as “changing airlines” on her goes…I’m wondering if this was a code share situation?

    IDK…I think she got more than she deserved.

  • Philippa_FRA

    It sounds like it could very well be a code share situation.

    Or, considering how this woman seems to be reaching conclusions, perhaps she saw an AA flyer at the booking office?!

  • MikeInCtown

    How in the world does someone pay $5-$10k to a travel agent for a trip and then NOT call them first thing when they are told the flights weren’t paid for? I don’t care if my own mom had died, the T/A would be the FIRST person I would call to make it all right.

    And wow, less than 24 hours till they asked to cancel and all they got was a travel voucher? that’s a hefty sum… I’d be going crazy if I had that much outstanding $$$ on a CC I had to pay because I couldn’t get a refund.

  • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/ John Frenaye

    Chris–just a comment. Your suggestion to have the agent cancel the second reservation was not a good one. Agents only have access and “control” over reservations they actually ticketed. The only way around that is to pretend you are the passenger and cancel it–a practice that is done, but that I never recommend.

    Certainly the agent could have assisted her in cancelling the reservatiosn–telling her what to ask for, look for, and whispering in her ear.

  • Sue Keirsbilck Tanea

    She didn’t notice that she had been charged for the original tickets?? This doesn’t sound right. If the agent had booked her on BA she would have been charged. I know I would miss that amount in my bank account…

  • BillCCC

    Expensive lesson week continues at the TT.  I don’t think that there is any comment I could make that already hasn’t been made. Usually you would advise that a traveller use a TA to avoid these type of problems, what do you do when the traveller causes these problems?

  • Kotch11

    You really think you have heard it all till something like this comes up.  She’s just so lucky she got anything. Sometimes I guess we just have to save people from themselves

  • Joe Julio

    jfrenaye, i think you missed a step in the story.  The agent DID make both reservations so would have access and control.  The only thing the agent did not do was apply the payment to the AA reservation.

  • http://twitter.com/vipalpinetours Christina Ernst

    As a travel expert I cannot see the agent not going over all options and giving the client a clear print out, especially for an international ticket. I am curious if the agent booked it through a consolidator – third party. But the bottom line is the client should have always trusted the agent and never contacted the airline directly. This undermines everything the agent stands for. Yes, the agent would have been the one to make it right. That’s what we do, and an agent always has the client as their #1 focus. In 20 years I have never had a client not have everything in writing from me or not contact me if they have had a question that could not be resolved. If you use an agent allow them to do their job.

  • Charlie Funk


  • Charlie Funk

    I am lost as a ball in high weeds.  The OP states ” I called American and was told the booking was there but hadn’t been paid.”  Yet she then called back, cancelled the reservation THAT WASN’T PAID FOR and she lost all her money.  How is that possible? Either it was paid for or it wasn’t.  And the reply suggesting a BA codeshare is almost certainly spot on with what was going on.

  • IGoEverywhere

    There is no way in HELL that an airline should be able to release any information that was made through a travel agent to anybody. I have seen it once with the excuse that “it is our resevation” and I had that employee beat with a wet noodle. The traveler complicated everything in this matter. You either work with angent or an airline, or muck it up majorly.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OFNH3UW2DA4KRMHR732ZV7HCUY Valerie

    Wow you helped her out but wouldn’t consider my ordeal. I was left stranded in an airport overnight with two children due to the airline putting me on a flight where there was no way I could make a connecting flight. Amazing.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I recall your case, Valerie. Your plane was delayed because of bad weather, and you were provided with a hotel room. I did help you by connecting you with someone at Southwest, who reviewed your case. You heard back from the airline, and it offered you a voucher. You wanted a full refund. I did not feel Southwest would do that for you, even if I asked. I’m sorry you continue to be disappointed with that resolution.

  • Rosered7033

    1)  OP pays for BA flights TA made; 2) OP duplicates & pays for BOOKED flights with (codeshare) AA; 3) TA cannot cancel AA flights, as OP made them; 4)  OP cancels AA flights within 24 hrs. Yes, OP is to blame, but I don’t understand 1)  how AA can duplicate a BA itinerary that was paid for (I assume AA & BA share info on codeshare flights); 2) why a booking was still on AA’s books, apparently some time after it should have dropped for non-payment; 3) why AA wasn’t more lenient in the first place, as the booking was cancelled within 24 hrs.  OP’s fault, for sure, but there are some questions.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve had plans unilaterally changed on me before.  We were on a multi-city tour in a foreign country where we decided not to join the rest of the group for something and explored on our own.  We had the itinerary with the name of the hotel, and we took a taxi to get there.

    By the time we got there, they didn’t have our name and they indicated that the tour company had cancelled their reservations for the group at this hotel.  We had the cell phone number for our tour guide and the hotel manager was really helpful even though we weren’t going to be staying.  He let us you their phone to contact our tour guide, who told us that the hotel had been changed to another place across town.  The tour guide already knew this when we separated from the group, but failed to tell us.

    Personally we weren’t too happy about it.  We were out a little bit of time and the cost of an extra taxi ride.  However, we did find a hotel that was very gracious even though we weren’t paying customers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    No good deed goes unpunished.  Valerie sounds like someone who will never be satisfied regardless.

    Its offensive that people liek Valerie think that you are obligated to help them. If she want someone who is obligated to help she should have hired an attorney.

  • Bill Armstrong

    This is a pretty strange one.  If you’re going to use a travel agent, then use a travel agent …if you’re not, then don’t, but for goodness sake, don’t use yourself AND a travel agent.

    As for Chris’s statement about the travel agent being “on the hook” if they weren’t paid, I had an episode like that years ago.  Amex travel wouldn’t take ownership of the problem at all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Chris, some people will never be happy. Keep up the good work. 

  • bodega3

    Since AA gave voucher, this is a legitimate letter to Chris. Otherwise I would have thought this was a joke.

    Who is the ‘they’ who moved the OP from AA to BA after ticketing? This doesn’t make sense, so something is missing.  Also, why wouldn’t the OP use the point of sale, the agent who she called to handle the arrangements? 

    Also, why were the children in a separate reservation?  You can put up to 9 people in a PNR.  Since the OP mentioned this was a trip of a lifetime I am assuming the children are traveling both ways with the parents on the same flights.  Again, something isn’t right here and details are missing. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Valerie, are you always so condescending and self-entitled, or is today special? You seem like a piece of work, saying you were “Stranded with two small children” when you were given a freaking hotel room (something the airline did not have to do since the weather isn’t exactly in their control) is such a blatant exaggeration you should be ashamed of yourself. Then to come here and bash Chris for providing you free assistance? 

    What about the other passengers, who didn’t use their children as emotional tools to manipulate the airline into giving them free rooms? Consider yourself lucky, and move on. 

    You are the perfect example of the “Bad Consumer”.

  • Michael__K

    Has she never heard of getting anything in writing?


    Shouldn’t travel agents be expected to automatically provide something in writing (or email)?  Does that happen only on special request?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Where are all the “you should have used a travel agent” people now? 

    This is what I was referring to in the last couple stories, no matter how good a travel agent is you can’t account for lack of common sense.  

  • $16635417

    Actually, that is what I was referring to in my original response. Did the OP have any itinerary or e-ticket receipt from their travel agent? Do we know this was a real brick and mortar agent or just a travel booking website? OP called the airline, quickly jumpred to a conclusion only to find the TA had something booked.

  • ClareClare

    It’s true, there are some humongous gaps in the OP’s story line here, but the AA-to-BA switcheroo leaves me wondering: perhaps the OP called the airline on her own because she either (a) had been trying to deal with the TA on the phone and was suspicious that things had somehow been screwed up, and wanted to doublecheck, OR (b) the TA wasn’t returning her calls?  Both have certainly happened to me in the past–I once had to sue a TA in small-claims, and the TA was so unbelievably incompetent that the judge sat on the bench, listening to the TA’s incoherent (and unsuccessful) defense, with his mouth hanging open.  I’m not totally excusing the OP here by any means; just suggesting that issues with a sketchy TA may have prompted this whole mess…

    I once arranged with a TA (a different one) to fly out of DCA in DC, and she agreed and confirmed it over the phone–and then mailed me tickets flying out of IAD, many miles away.  I couldn’t tell in advance from the CC charge, since the airline was the same and the price was comparable!  So this sort of garbage does happen.

  • johnb78

    I’m completely baffled by the story here. Given the incomprehensibility of the traveler’s letter to Chris, it’s not surprising the airline had no clue what she was up to either.

    I don’t understand why BA have any relevance at all. Since last year, BA and AA can sell tickets interchangeably on transatlantic routes, so it doesn’t matter in the slightest whether she’s flying on a silver plane or a white one with a stripey tail. And if you buy a codeshare ticket, then right up until check-in it’s the selling airline, not the operating airline, who deals with 100% of your issues.

  • Steve_in_WI

    Wow. Unless there is information that she left out (for instance, if her travel agent had been unreachable), I don’t see how this is anything but the customer’s fault or why she would try to handle the reservations herself. Even if she had successfully handled the reservations – that’s what she’s paying the TA to do!

    As someone else said, why would you use a travel agent and then try to handle things yourself? I can understand checking in with American to make sure that the flight was confirmed on their end, but when she was told that her flight hadn’t been paid for, the first thing she should have done was hang up and call the TA.

  • $16635417

    I was wondering if the OP was confused over codeshares and thought she was on AA all the way (even though AA does not got to South Africa). I am not going to buy the “switcheroo” scenario just yet. 

  • Good_ol_Cali

    I agree with question #2! Shouldn’t the AA flight have been cancelled for non-payment after a short while (especially with the weeks between the 2 events, as it sounds like in the story)?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    I don’t think there’s any gaps, I mean, she had to make up a “family sickness” excuse for her behavior, if the TA was MIA surely she would have used that as an excuse as well. 

    This is someone who panicked when they thought a flight wasn’t booked and paid for a reservation and rather than calling the TA first she took action and made matters worse. 

    All this codeshare discussion is nonsense and nothing more than speculation. 

  • Raven_Altosk

    This x 1000.
    I wish I could like this a 1000 times, too.

  • SooZeeQ

    If you are going to use a travel agent, then use them all of the way.

    They should have called the agent after talking to AA and it would have not been a mess.

  • TonyA_says

    Who the heck is Valerie? Do you have a link to her case?

  • Asiansm Dan

    As she used a TA, the TA should inform her of any change in the itinerary as soon as the change occur. Sure she would have called her TA first, may be she had difficulty to reach her TA that why she called the Airlines.  We are the tiny part of the population who understand the  complexity of the today Tower-of-Babel travel industries and don’t assume that everybody have a computer or an iPhone. Computer illiterates occupy a much larger part of the population that we thought. Once awhile, I even encounter some folks cannot even read or write.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Oh, you’re one of those breeder-non-parents. You think the world owes you something above and beyond the rest of us because you have CHILDREN. Well, guess what, cupcake…airlines NEVER give hotel rooms out when delays/cancelations are weather related.

    You were very fortunate (or perhaps just annoying enough to a gate agent) to receive one. You even got a voucher from SWA, but that’s not good enough because you have CHILDREN! You rode the plane, but you want a full refund? 

    Seriously lady, if you can’t handle the occasional weather delay, stay out of the skies. No one MADE you fly with your CHILDREN…that’s a choice.

    So, in conclusion:
    You are the breeder-non-parent that other people DREAD. You are probably the same woman who demands that strangers help her with her unruly kids and all their kid junk because YOU are ENTITLED.

    Sit down and let the adults talk.
    Kthnx baibai.

  • Raven_Altosk

    She got a hotel room AND a voucher for a weather related delay!??!?  And she’s complaining?!?!?


  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    Wow, as JamesinPhenomPenh said, this was one of the easiest to vote on in a LONG time.

    And Raven’s comment was priceless – “a case of the stupids”!  I almost spewed my tea on that one!

    Like so many others here, if she was using a travel agent, why didn’t she go on using the travel agent?  It’s when one attempts to intervene in the process and inner workings of another’s job that things get mucked up.  

    I think using a “a family illness” was an attempt at evoking sympathy, nothing more, and when people do this, it makes it difficult for those of us experiencing a sincere family crisis.

    AA was FAR too kind in this situation and I believe they were buying Chris’s goodwill rather than that of the OP.  Chris should have filed this one in the round file but he’s apparently more empathetic than I.  Hopefully, someone at AA is reading this and seeing had this gone the other way and the OP got a kick in the rear from them the rest of us would have perfectly fine with that.

    I used to micro-manage like this when I was younger and came to realize I didn’t need to do this – this is why we all have “people” to manage things for us.

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    Wish I could like this more than once…

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    Uh, what?

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    Apparently, she was expecting a five course meal, limo service (in an actual limo – not a van) to and from and then back again to the airport.

    Sorry, your highness…

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    Raven, I wish you and I lived near each other so we could go sit in coffee shops and hack on the idiots of the world…

  • SoBeSparky

    Fire the travel agent.  Changing arrangements for a “once-in-a-lifetime-trip” without telling the customer?  Unforgivable.  A travel agent’s job is to keep the customer informed at all times.  

  • Rosered7033

    See above comment from her, followed by comment by Christopher Elliott.

  • $16635417

    Actually, a codeshare HAS to play into it somehow. (To what extent is the question.) AA does not fly to South Africa, they use British Airways as a codeshare partner via London.

  • Philippa_FRA

    Perhaps they were adult children living out-of-state and departing from a different airport than the OP?

    But yes, there’s a whole lot of things that don’t make sense here. I wonder why Elliott always leaves out this kind of basic information!?

  • Raven_Altosk

    Me too. That sounds like fun, Nancy!

  • Philippa_FRA

    If BA puts an AA sticker on their flights to South Africa, and AA doesn’t fly there themselves… would that mean the BA and AA reservations were on the exact same flight?

    The travel agent then paid BA for seats on BAs’ half of the aeroplane, while the OP paid AA for seats on their half?

    Or, was there never more than one reservation to begin with? When OP called AA they could tell there was a reservation but that they hadn’t received money for it… because the travel agent had handed the money over to BA instead of AA?

    I’m mightily confused.

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    It’s ALWAYS a good time – especially if it’s near a Walmart!

  • $16635417

    Same flights – possibly.

    It is possible the itinerary had American Airlines flight numbers for the whole trip and all segments were flown on BA. 
    Yes, confusing, but only without a copy of the itinerary or e-ticket receipt.

  • bodega3

    Sorry BC, but there is too much missing from this to blame the TA at this point.  There is no way the carrier would know on their end if the tickets had been paid for.  Had they been ticketed, yes, they can see the ticket number, but that doesn’t mean a ticket is paid for.

  • Raven_Altosk


    Classic places to exercise some virtual snark!

  • Ann Lamoy

    I’m just curious who the (as of this comment) 21 people are that voted for this being the airlines fault?

    I can see the reach for it being the TA’s fault. If she was impossible to get in touch with and the OP panicked, I can see apportioning some of the blame on the TA if they didn’t communicate any changes on the itinerary.

    She never got a confirmation from the airline that the cancellation was made either so now she is going back and complaining that she is only getting a credit for the unused tickets for her children minus the change fee. Had she done what any sensible person should do-look for that confirmation and when not received, call back and confirm all tickets are cancelled and ask for a confirmation be sent, she would have discovered that the children’s tickets had not been cancelled.

    It is a good rule of thumb. Any time you cancel anything, whether or not you paid for it, get a confirmation of cancellation. And hold onto that sucker. So if the hotel/car rental/airline/whatever doesn’t refund you or tries to charge you, you can pull it out and basically tell them to bite you or give you your money back. And if you paid for it and are promised a refund, you have the means to get the money within a reasonable amount of time.

  • Andrea Boltz

    I think you missed a line or two. The OP states that they paid AA directly for the tickets when they were told they were not paid for. Then they called their TA, found out the flight had been switched and called back to cancel the tickets they just paid for.

  • Andrea Boltz

    The TA moved the booking according to the article, but the customer did not check with the TA before making payment on the AA tickets. As to why the children were on a different reservation, we don’t know. Regardless, the problem was caused by the Traveler not checking with their TA before making payment on the tickets, since presumably they had already paid the TA for the trip.

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    Two of my favorite websites!  I share these liberally on my FB page!  Helps me feel good about myself!

  • TonyA_says

    I called American Airlines less than 24 hours later to cancel the reservation I had made.The person on the phone did cancel my reservation and I was told my children’s reservation, which was separate from mine, was canceled as well. I was charged $2,187 for each of my children’s tickets. The tickets were never used.

    She says 2 reservations were cancelled –  her’s and her children’s, within 24 hrs.  She was not charged for her ticket, but she was charged for the tickets of her 2 children.

    AA did not have a 24 hour refund policy.  [I say “did” because the new DOT rule requires it as of 24/26 January 2012.]

    If she actually bought the ticket directly from AA, then she would have been charged. Therefore, I suspect she bought her ticket from the Travel Agent and then the TA voided the ticket w/in 24 hours. That’s why she didn’t get charged.

    I’m not sure what happened to her children’s tickets. It would be nice if we know for certain who issued the e-tickets – the TA or AA?

  • TonyA_says

    There is no way in HELL that an airline should be able to release any information that was made through a travel agent to anybody. 

    In my experience, if the passenger calls AA for a booking made by a TA, AA will release information to the passenger.
    The info of the PNR you make in your GDS is “duplicated” in the airlines RES system. They can do whatever they want with their RES system and simply shoot back an SSR message to the GDS. The airline can always “take control or ownership” of the reservation if they want to.
    I have had this happen many times to PNRs I have created for my passengers. The passenger calls the airline and makes changes to their reservations directly with the airline after we have ticketed. That real issue is who get’s paid. If the TA issues the ticket, s/he gets paid. Since AA did not give 24 hour refunds, then TAs preserve their commissions. If I void the e-ticket w/in 24 hours, then I get nada (unless I charged a separate booking fee that is non refundable).

    The fact is Travel Agents are really powerless. The airlines can do whatever it wants.

  • TonyA_says

    I suspect the “movement” from AA to AA codeshare of BA operated flight was due to a schedule change from MIA to LHR. So this could be one of this robo-reaccommodations.
    What I find hard to understand is “so what” if they are now on a BA flight to London. Why would she cancel? The original LHR-JNB had to be on a BA operated flight to begin with since AA does not fly to JNB. [I assume JNB is the destination.] What’s wrong with BA?

    I wish she explained the reason why her kids were on a separate PNRs. Did the agent need to get different booking code to save money [ran out of seats at the cheaper class]? Were the kids flying from another airport as Philippa said? Wonder why her kids got charged and she wasn’t. Where the kid’s etickets even voided within 24hrs?

    Finally, it would be great if Chris could give us more information. I can’t definitively say who even issued the tickets – the TA or AA call center agent?

  • scapel

    If I send any information to anyone by e-mail, I always send a cc to my TA so she knows what information I am putting out. This serves as a check on the information I have and also lets her know what information I think I have and if it is correct.

  • glenn loper

    whoa, i have to agree with nancy, wish i could like this more than once. laughing at “unless it’s a case of the stupids”

  • Philippa_FRA

    I think the only thing that was cancelled was the second set of tickets (on AA) the OP bought herself.

    Or rather, due to a misunderstanding it was only the OP’s AA-ticket that got cancelled while the children’s (separate) AA-tickets were not.

    BTW, isn’t LHR a bit of a detour on an MIA-JNB trip?

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah LHR is out of the way but that is the OneWorld default route for JNB. IMO she could have taken Delta nonstop from ATL.

    This case is so weird it would be great if we can get the travel agent to make a comment. Maybe we can see another side of the picture.

    She says she called AA and cancelled both her and the children’s reservations within 24 hours. If [let’s say] she bought the tickets through her travel agent and she called AA to cancel the flights [reservation], we’re still not sure whether the travel agent voided ALL of the e-tickets. Maybe the children’s e-ticket were not voided so they stayed in ISSUED status without an active reservation linked to it.

    Lots of folks think reservations are synonymous with tickets. Nope they are two different things. You can cancel all the flights in your reservation and still have a ticket that has value. Canceling flights does not automatically generate a ticket refund. I think this is what happened here.

  • TonyA_says

    The way I “understand” [a stretch] her:
    (1) TA makes a reservation with AA trans-Atlantic flights. AA would validate the tickets if issued. TA still had not issued tickets.
    (2) She calls AA to check on her booking and finds out tickets were not issued yet. 
    (3) She calls her Travel Agent to tell the TA to issue tickets and then she finds out she was moved to a BA operated trans-Atlantic flight (an AA codeshare). TA issues e-tickets on AA.
    (4) Within 24 hours she calls AA to cancel her flights. Apparently she dioes not like flying BA over the Atlantic. AA cancels all her and her children’s flights.
    (5) [with a real stretch of my imagination] The Travel Agent sees the flight cancellations on on his/her GDS queue. The TA voids her e-ticket but forgets to void the children’s etickets. Note: I don’t know if she ever called her TA back.
    (6) The children’s etickets stay ISSUED even if there is no more flights [reservation] linked to it. So, her credit card charges stick for the 2 kid’s tickets.

    It’s very common for passengers to call and interact with the airlines about tickets they purchased from travel agents. They don’t trust their TA 100% and want to make sure they have a valid ticket. The problem is that they do not understand that while the airline can make flight changes on their reservations [including cancelling all flight], accounting for the e-ticket is a completely different story. If you want your money back when you cancel your booking within 24 hours, you need to call your TA who issued your eticket and have it VOIDED.

    Lesson of the day – your flight reservations and your e-ticket are 2 different animals [entities]. Learn how to deal with BOTH of them.

  • TonyA_says


    AA, BA and IB have a TransAtlantic Joint Venture agreement between them. They share the revenue regardless who sells the tickets.

    That said, AA can sell BA and IB flights and ticket them on AA ‘stock’ (meaning all the flight coupons are issued by AA).

    I think the OP and her kids were originally on an AA operated flight to London. Then, for some reason, that flight was “switched” to an AA codeshared BA operated flight (to London).

    This flight reaccommodation should not have mattered to the reservation; except that for some reason, she didn’t like flying BA over the Atlantic. 


  • Philippa_FRA

    I read the story in a slightly different way:

    1) OP consults TA, says she wants to go to JoBurg. TA says he’ll get them AA-flights.
    2) A month or so before the trip OP calls AA to check up on their flights. AA says they see the reservations but the tickets haven’t been paid for yet.
    3) OP immediately pays for the tickets while she’s on the phone with AA.
    4) OP calls TA, asks what’s up. TA tells her he has bought them BA-flights instead of AA-flights.
    5) OP calls AA to cancel the AA-tickets. AA cancels OP’s own tickets but doesn’t realise she also has separate AA-tickets for her children.
    6) The children’s AA-tickets are not cancelled, and OP therefore doesn’t receive the refund.

    I don’t think OP had an AA-over-BA preference, she just thought they’d be going on AA and then acted without thinking.

    But yeah, it’s a weird story…

  • TouchyFeely

    “Stepping in and “fixing” it without first consulting with your agent made the problem worse.”

    Stupid Tax

  • Kevkev12

    Just on word to you : ungracious

  • TouchyFeely

     Have you tried filing suit against God for the weather?  Just a thought…

  • S E Tammela

    I certainly feel for the OP’s awful problem regarding whatever the family illness was, but really. Five dollars or five thousand dollars, you pay a travel agent for a reason. They’re the ones who are supposed to sort this out for you.

  • TonyA_says

    2 problems w/ this scenario:
    (1) The original reservation would be useless after 3 days since AA fare rules require ticketing w/in 72 hrs. Also AA usually won’t give PNRs that long before they are automatically cancelled.
    (2) AA does not have 24 hour refund cancellations. If she bought her tickets from AA, she would only be given vouchers for refunds. But her own ticket was refunded making me think they were issued by the TA with ARC settlement. This allowed for the 24 hr. void and money was returned to her credit card.

    So I wonder if the TA actually made NEW reservations (since the old ones expired) when she called back wanting to know why she wasn’t ticketed yet.

    But then again, I am only guessing…

  • Joe Farrell

    So why did the OP hire a travel agent and why did they go directly to the assumption that the travel agent was an idiot?  

    And then when they made the assumption the person was stupid why did they then no call them up and berate them and ask them why they did not pay for the tickets?

    Like touchy says below:  Stupid tax.

  • Philippa_FRA

    You know more about the inner workings of tickets/reservations/policies than I do – it’s mainly Elliott’s response that makes me think the OP acted completely on her own with the AA-tickets.

    I don’t think we can solve this puzzle unless Elliott provides some of the missing pieces…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Thank you Raven! I’m so sick of the entitled people that complain for the most inane things on this site and expect every company to bend over backwards to their every demand. Goodness forbid they have their devil’s spawn with them, then they’ll demand the world and a refund because somehow they deserve special accommodations. 

  • Lindabator

    Perhaps it was a case of a code-shared flight, where BA was actually less expensive – but I don’t see how the client never got a confirmation, and then decided to ticket it herself?

  • Lindabator

    We do – that’s why I don’t understand why the client decided to go to American to issue the ticket?

  • Lindabator

    Which begs the question as to why the client even had access to the booking!  Something here smells – she should have called the agent and NOT the airline – unless she is a control freak, and look where THAT got her!

  • Lindabator

    You didn’t read it correctly – when she called American, it said the reservation was there, but not paid for – at which point she paid for it.  THEN she called back to cancel.

  • Lindabator

    You were delayed by bad weather, which is  an Act of God – they STILL gave you a hotel room AND a voucher.  Just because you wanted a free trip, doesn’t mean you are entitled to it.  Chris has too many whiners like you expecting more than you are entitled to.  Put on your big girl panties and suck it up!

  • Lindabator

    I know – PITIFUL!  And the reason why it gets harder and harder for REAL cases to be addressed with anything but reluctance and derision.  Sad.

  • Lindabator

    What are you reading????  She says she booked with her TA, but then called AA to confirm the flights.  AA said the flights were there, but not paid for, which she then did.  THEN she called the TA, who told her she was on different flights, so she called AA back to cancel the flights SHE paid for with them directly.

  • Lindabator

    Yes – it sounds like that to me – I think Tony’s just jumping to conclusions here.  The client paid AA, then cancelled the tickets AFTER she spoke with the TA, who informed her she was on different flights.  But this IS a strange case altogether!

  • Lindabator

    But she DIDN’T “use” her travel agent – she decided to call AA directly – why?????

  • Lindabator

    But she didn’t SAY she couldn’t reach her agent, and she OBVIOUSLY could reach her AFTER she paid – so that scenario doesn’t hold water. 

  • TonyA_says

    Linda, from what I read it’s not very clear who actually issued the tickets. She didn’t say she bought the tickets directly from AA. However she did say she called AA to cancel her flights.

    AA does not have a 24hr refund option. This is why I suspect, she was ISSUED a ticket through ARC – meaning by an agency.

    If she bought a ticket directly from AA, the best she could get was a voucher. If she bought from a TA, she could have them voided w/in 24 hrs and get her CC charges credited.

    Note she bought them before the new 26JAN12 DOT 24 hour rule.

  • Lindabator

    EXACTLY!  Instead, she paid for the tix, THEN called the TA (so obviously reaching her wasn’t a problem, and she should have called her in the 1st place!!!!)

  • Lindabator

    Obviously no problem reaching her TA, as she reached her AFTER paying for the tix!

  • Lindabator

    I agree that the reservation should have been cancelled in the system after the 24 hours and no original payment – but it does SAY above that when she called AA and found out they were not paid for, she paid AA on the phone, and THEn called her TA – was told she had other arrangements, and then called AA back for a refund.  I agree that something here smells, though.  But I just don’t know HOW the whole thing happened, and it does seem we aren’t getting the whole story.

  • Lindabator

    But we don’t know what happened here – I think we aren’t getting the real story, because nothing makes sense here – and frankly, if this was MY client, I’d “fire” them!

  • Lindabator

    But we don’t know if the agent booked her on a codeshare flight, and she told them she had 2 bookings, in which case, since she CANNOT be double-booked, the airline MAY have cancelled this due to those circumstances.  We just aren’t getting the whole story here.  And just for the record, even though this was before the “24 hour” rule took effect, I can tell you from my OWN experience, the airlines did occasionally break their own rules and cancel within that time frame.  Just depends on who you get (or KNOW)